Meet the 2023 Peoria Journal Star boys golfer of the year and the all-area team

High school boys golf in the Peoria area is set to experience a bright future. Throughout this season, numerous underclassmen showcased their skills, leaving us eagerly anticipating the 2024 season. These talented freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are expected to return for another remarkable campaign.

Presenting the 2023 Journal Star boys golfer of the year, Connor Watson, who leads the six-player JS all-area team. The POY is listed first, followed by the five all-area picks in alphabetical order:

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Connor Watson, East Peoria

East Peoria's Connor Watson drives near the treeline on No. 1 during the second round of the Class 2A state golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.

Watson became synonymous with victory in 2023, earning him the prestigious title of Journal Star boys golfer of the year. Within a span of three weeks during August and September, he emerged victorious in seven events, including three invitationals at Limestone, Monmouth-Roseville, and Metamora. Additionally, he secured a third-place finish at the Mid-Illini Conference tournament. This junior golfer made a significant improvement at the Class 2A state meet, tying for 24th place and moving up by 20 spots from last season. His final-round 8-over 79 was accompanied by two birdies at Weibring Golf Club in Normal.

Owen Adams, Morton

Adams showcased exceptional skill, particularly in challenging conditions at the Mid-Illini tournament. The sophomore clinched medalist honors with a stellar 1-over 73 at Quail Meadows, leading his team, the Potters, to victory in a rain-soaked league championship. Although he narrowly missed the opportunity to compete at the state level, he played a crucial role in Morton’s runner-up regional team finish.

Nolan Eccles, Dunlap

Eccles made a remarkable impact in his debut varsity season. The freshman secured the runner-up position at the Mid-Illini tournament and emerged as the 2A Monmouth-Roseville Regional medalist. Notably, he achieved a 1-over 72 score at Gibson Woods, thanks to four birdies on the fifth, ninth, 11th, and 13th holes. Eccles missed the state finals by a mere two strokes.

Tanner Wake, Elmwood

Wake claimed the title of medalist at the Class 1A Cambridge Regional. The senior displayed exceptional skills, achieving a score of 6-over 78 with four birdies at Valley View Club, triumphing over his competitors by a margin of four strokes. Subsequently, he advanced to the state finals, where he tied for 31st place, shooting a final-round 4-over 76.

Crew Fortin, Illini Bluffs

Fortin showcased great potential during the 1A state finals, securing a place within the top 40 finishers. The talented freshman concluded his impressive debut season with a final round of 10-over 82 at Prairie Vista Golf Course. Notably, he carded 10 pars during those 18 holes. Fortin qualified for the state finals following notable performances in the regionals and sectionals, finishing in 15th and tied for 10th place, respectively.

Jack Coulter, Peoria Notre Dame

Coulter’s post-season journey commenced with a regional victory in the Class 2A Metamora Regional, contributing to the success of the Irish team. His third-place individual finish at Metamora Fields resulted from an outstanding performance that included five birdies, concluding with a score of 2-over 73. Following this achievement, Coulter tied for 11th place at the sectional tournament. His final tournament of the season was the state finals, where he tied for 27th place with a score of 4-over 75.

Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.

Journal Star Boys Golfers of the Year

  • 2023 — Connor Watson, East Peoria

  • 2022 — Carter Stevenson, Pekin

  • 2021 — Connor Hamm, Macomb

  • 2020 — Mason Minkel, Pekin

  • 2019 — Weston Walker, Peoria Christian

  • 2018 — Matt Leist, Dunlap

  • 2017 — Tommy Kuhl, Morton

  • 2016 — Tommy Kuhl, Morton

  • 2015 — Pete Kuhl, Morton

  • 2014 — Tommy Kuhl, Morton

  • 2013 — Trevor Gold, Eureka

  • 2012 — Matt Lavery, Dunlap

  • 2011 — Trevor Gold, Eureka

  • 2010 — Jordan Fahel, Notre Dame

  • 2009 — Jordan Fahel, Notre Dame

  • 2008 — Travis Kreiter, Brimfield

  • 2007 — Jonathan Hauter, Peoria Christian

  • 2006 — Jonathan Hauter, Peoria Christian

  • 2005 — Zach Zobrist, Peoria Christian

  • 2004 — Jonathon Krick, Notre Dame

  • 2003 — Kyle Shay, Richwoods

  • 2002 — Tyler Fitch, Peoria Christian

  • 2001 — Kris Wildenradt, Delavan

  • 2000 — Scott Phegley, Morton

  • 1999 — Dustin Edwards, Havana

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: 2023 Peoria Journal Star boys golfer of the year and all-area team


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